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about her, began to occupy a place similar to the place which
she had occupied during those years in Philadelphia. The
fact, he decided, was not strange, for in those occupationless
days and nights, the items of the past which, in the forward
drive of his hopes and activities, had seemed to be flashing
from him into distance, like objects seen from a moving train,
now appeared with an importance and simultaneity that sur-
prised him. And he scanned those items for some explana-
tion, some hint of interpretation, for the present. Then,
baffled, he would try to thrust them from his mind completely.

He did not know whether Miss Sprague was alive or dead.
Since his mother's death, he had had but one letter from Miss
Sprague. He had written to her to tell her of the death of his
mother. After some weeks he had received a letter from her
saying that she was very sorry that Mrs. Munn was dead and
sympathized with him in his bereavement. The letter was
curt and detached, almost anonymous.

Now, a good many years after the event, he had the impulse
to write to Miss Sprague. But he decided against it, for, even
as the impulse came, there came the conviction that the letter
would not be answered. To answer his letter would be a con-
cession, a weakness, for her. Now she would be, whether
alive or dead, beyond such concessions; that letter to him on
the occasion of his mother's death had, he was sure, been the
grudging last.

Alone much of the time now, standing in the yard or walk-
ing across the fields, or sitting on the porch in the evening
aware of the new edge to the air, or staring up at the dark
above his bed, he occasionally wondered about the nature of
Miss Sprague's loneliness. He tried to feel himself back across
time and across the bounds of personality into her special
loneliness. He recalled how, during those periods of loneli-
ness and homesickness in Philadelphia—and he had been
lonely during all those years—he had wondered how anybody
could be so alone, so cut off, so withdrawn, as Miss Sprague,
and still live.

He   himself was much alone now, and by choice.   Even